Malay Timed Text Style Guide
*This document covers the language specific requirements for Malay. Please make sure to also review the General Requirements Section for comprehensive guidelines surrounding Timed Text deliveries to Netflix.
- Do not use abbreviations such as “yg”, “awk”, “ni” and “tu”.
- “En.” for Encik, “Pn.” for Puan and “Dr.” for Doktor are acceptable.
- Acronyms should be written without periods between letters: BBC, CIA, USA, UK
3. Character Limitation
- 42 characters per line
4. Character Names
- Do not translate proper names (e.g., Peter, Suzanne), unless Netflix provides approved translations.
- Nicknames should only be translated if they convey a specific meaning.
- Use language-specific translations for historical/mythical characters (e.g., Santa Claus).
- Do not use ellipses when a sentence is split between two continuous subtitles:
Subtitle 1 Ini ialah kawasan rekreasi
Subtitle 2 yang sangat terkenal.
- Use ellipses to indicate a pause, abrupt interruption. In case of a pause, if the sentence continues in the next subtitles, do not use an ellipsis at the beginning of the second subtitle.
Subtitle 1 Saya rasa…
Subtitle 2 awak sukakan saya.
Subtitle 1 - Apa yang awak sedang…
Subtitle 2 - Tolong diam!
- Use ellipses without a space to indicate that a subtitle is starting mid-sentence:
…telah menandatangani surat itu.
- Speaker’s title: only translate the title. Do not include the speaker’s name, company name or character name as these are redundant.
- Only translate a speaker’s title once, the first time the speaker appears in the documentary.
- When ongoing dialogue is interrupted by a speaker’s title, use ellipsis at the end of the sentence in the subtitle that precedes it and at the beginning of the sentence in the subtitle that follows it.
- Dialogue in TV/Movie clips should only be subtitled if plot-pertinent and if the rights have been granted.
- News tickers/banners from archive clips do not require subtitles unless plot-pertinent.
- Avoid going back and forth between italicized and non-italicized subtitles when the speaker is on and off screen in a documentary. If the speaker is on-camera for at least part of the scene, do not italicize. Leave italics for off-screen narrators.
7. Dual Speakers
- Use a hyphen followed by a space to indicate two speakers in one subtitle, with a maximum of one speaker per line.
- Kau ada dokumen itu?
8. Font Information
- Font style: Arial as a generic placeholder for proportional SansSerif.
- Font size: Relative to video resolution and ability to fit 42 characters across the screen.
- Font color: White.
- Forced narrative titles should only be included if plot-pertinent.
- When on-screen text and dialogue overlap, precedence should be given to the most plot-pertinent message. Avoid over truncating or severely reducing reading speed in order to include both dialogue and on-screen text.
- The duration of the FN subtitle should as much as possible mimic the duration of the on-screen text, except for cases where reading speed and/or surrounding dialogue takes precedence.
- Forced narratives that are redundant (e.g., identical to onscreen text or covered in the dialogue) must be deleted.
- Forced narratives should be in ALL CAPS, except for long passages of on screen text (e.g. prologue or epilogue), which should use sentence case to improve readability.
- Never combine a forced narrative with dialogue in the same subtitle.
- When a forced narrative interrupts dialogue, use an ellipsis at the end of the sentence in the subtitle that precedes it and at the beginning of the sentence that follows it:
Subtitle 1 Saya rasa kita perlu…
Subtitle 2 (FN) DILARANG MASUK
Subtitle 3 …pergi dari sini.
10. Foreign Dialogue
- Foreign dialogue should only be translated if the viewer was meant to understand it (i.e., if it was subtitled in the original version).
- When using foreign words, always verify spelling, accents and punctuation, if applicable.
- Foreign words should be italicized, unless they have become part of regular usage (e.g., in English, the following no longer need to be italicized: bon appétit, rendezvous, doppelgänger, zeitgeist, persona non grata) and unless they are proper names (e.g., a company name).
- Italicize the following:
- Album, book, film and program titles (use quotes for song titles)
- Foreign words (unless they are part of regular usage)
- Dialogue that is heard through electronic media, such as a phone, television, or computer
- Only use italics when the speaker is not in the scene(s), not merely off screen or off camera
- Song lyrics (if rights have been granted)
- Do not use italics to indicate emphasis on specific words.
12. Line Treatment
- Maximum two lines.
- Numbers from 1 to 10 should be written out: satu, dua, tiga, etc.
- Numbers above ten should be written numerically: 11, 12, 13, etc.
- When a number begins a sentence, it should always be spelled out.
- Note that the above rules may be broken due to space limitations or reading speed concerns, as well as for consistency when listing multiple quantities, for example.
- Measurements should be converted to the metric system, unless the original unit of measurement is plot relevant.
- Symbols like %, &, can be used only if limited space is available. Otherwise they must be spelled out (Eg peratus…)
- Quotes should be used at the start and end of a sentence and not at the start of every subtitle.
- Use double quotation marks (" ") without spaces for regular quotations.
- Use single quotation marks (‘ ‘) for quotes within quotes: Steve yang kata begitu: 'Semuanya OK.'"
- Punctuation should be included within the quotation marks if the quote is an independent clause and outside if it’s not.
- Ali berkata, “Kawasan itu sangat cantik dan menenangkan jiwa.”
- Dia memanggil budak itu sebagai “Si gemuk”.
15. Reading Speed
- Adult programs: 17 characters per second
- Children’s programs: 13 characters per second
- Do not translate words or phrases repeated more than once by the same speaker.
- If the repeated word or phrase is said twice in a row, time subtitle to the audio but translate only once.
- Only subtitle plot-pertinent songs if the rights have been granted.
- Opening and ending theme songs should only be subtitled if clearly plot-pertinent (e.g. for children’s content when the lyrics tell a story) or if instructed by Netflix. Normally, adult programs should not have the opening songs subtitled, except for SDH.
- Italicize lyrics.
- Use an uppercase letter at the beginning of each line.
- Use ellipsis when a song continues in the background, but is no longer subtitled to give precedence to dialogue.
- Punctuation: only question marks and exclamation marks preceded by a space should be used at the end of a line – no commas or periods. Commas can be used within the lyric line, if necessary.
- Main titles: do not subtitle the on-screen main title card.
- Episode titles: do not subtitle episode titles if they do not appear on screen/are voiced-over. If on-screen (either as part of the principal photography or burned into video) or voiced-over, please reference the KNP tool for approved translations.
- Titles of published works, existing movies and TV shows: use official or well-known translations. If none are available, leave titles in the original language.
19. Special Instructions
- Dialogue must never be censored. Expletives should be rendered as faithfully as possible.
- Plot-pertinent dialogue always takes precedence over background dialogue.
- Deliberate misspellings and mispronunciations should not be reproduced in the translation unless plot-pertinent.
- Please always use correct Malay spellings for words such as tahu, mahu, beritahu. Never use Indonesian spellings such as tau, mau, beritau.
- Use of slang, regional dialect, and emotive elements should be avoided.
- Include as much of the original content as possible.
- Do not simplify or water down the original dialogue.
- Reading speed can be increased to:
- Adult programs: 20 characters per second
- Children’s programs: 17 characters per second
- Truncating the original dialogue should be limited to instances where reading speed and synchronicity to the audio are an issue.
- For TV/Movie clips, all audible lines should be transcribed, if possible. If the audio interferes with dialogue, please give precedence to most plot-pertinent content.
- All same-language audible songs that do not interfere with dialogue should be titled, if the rights have been granted.
- Use song title identifiers when applicable - song titles should be in quotes:
["Forever Your Girl" playing]
- Song lyrics should be enclosed with a music note (♪) at the beginning and the end of each subtitle.
- Use brackets [ ] to enclose speaker IDs or sound effects.
- Identifiers/sound effects should be all lowercase, except for proper nouns.
- Only use speaker IDs or sound effects when they cannot be visually identified.
- When a speaker ID is required for a character who has yet to be identified by name, use [man] or [woman], or [male voice] or [female voice], so as not to provide information that is not yet present in the narrative.
- Use a generic ID to indicate and describe ambient music (e.g., rock music playing over a stereo).
- Sound effects should be plot-pertinent.
- Sound effects that interrupt dialogue should be treated as follows:
Subtitle 1: However, lately, I've been...
Subtitle 2: ...seeing a lot more of this.
- Never italicize speaker IDs or sound effects, even when the spoken information is italicized, such as in a voice-over:
Once upon a time, there was…
- In instances of foreign dialogue being spoken:
- If foreign dialogue is translated, use [in language], for example [in Spanish]
- If foreign dialogue is not meant to be understood, use [speaking language], for example [speaking Spanish]
- Always research the language being spoken – [speaking foreign language] should never be used
For all language-related issues not covered in this document, please refer to:
- Pusat Rujukan Persuratan Melayu @ DBP: http://prpm.dbp.gov.my/
Revised section 6 Documentary - 1st, 4th, 5th and 6th bullet points added
Revised section 9 Forced Narratives – 2nd and 3rd bullet points added, 5th bullet point revised
Revised section 13 Numbers - 4th and 5th bullet points revised
Revised section 16 Repetitions – 1st point revised for clarity
Revised section 17 Songs – 2nd bullet point added
Revised section 18 Titles – 1st and 2nd bullet points revised
Added section 20 SDH Guidelines - renamed and expanded for clarity